It is a surreal feeling for Florentin Pogba after signing a two-year deal with Indian Super League club ATK Mohun Bagan.
After officially signing the contract, Pogba spoke to the ATK Mohun Bagan media team.
“ATK Mohun Bagan is a club with a strong supporter base and making my debut in Indian football with this club is an amazing feeling. I know the weight this jersey carries and I am looking forward to the day when I will get on the pitch donning the colours of the club,” said Pogba.
The Guinean international joined the Mariners from Ligue 2 team, FC Sochaux-Montbeliard, for which he made 63 appearances. He has also played for St-Etienne previously, which will play in Ligue 2 this year after getting relegated last season.
Paul Pogba announced the news by wishing his elder brother Florentin the best of luck on his social media ahead of his stint with the ISL club.
ATKMB head coach Juan Ferrando has reason to be excited as his latest signing is a versatile addition to the Mariners backline. Apart from his usual centre-back position, he can also play as a left-back.
“Pogba is a determined footballer and he always tries to give his best. As a coach, it is good to have a player who is always ready to get out of his comfort zone. He can create attacking chances from a defensive position and from what I have seen, his ability to thread defence-splitting passes will benefit us. Also, his ability to read the danger and prevent any attacking threat by the opposition is a valuable asset,” said Ferrando.
A new challenge
For Florentin Pogba, Indian football is an unknown arena but the decision of playing for ATKMB was not a difficult one.
“India is a new country for me and the main reason behind coming here was to take on a new challenge. The ISL is a championship I do not know much about so it is important to familiarise myself with the other teams. ATKMB is a club not only known in India but is a respected name in Asian football as well. So, it is a huge honour for me to play for a club which has had so much success throughout the years.”
Despite not knowing much about the ISL, the Guinean international isn’t completely in the dark about the league and Indian football in general.
“I still have a lot to know about the ISL and Indian football in general. However, I have spoken to Nicholas Anelka and Roberto Pires about the league and Indian football and going by what they said, football is a loved sport in the country.”
It is all about the fans
Kolkata is often termed the ‘Mecca of Indian football.’ It is a city that breathes football. The most recent indication was the support that the Indian national team got when it played the Asian Cup qualifiers against Cambodia, Afghanistan and Hong Kong at the Salt Lake Stadium.
Playing for a giant club like ATK Mohun Bagan is like two sides of a coin - one side brings a wave of love and support from the fans but like any other big club, there is the pressure of expectations from the fans. The emotions of fans are volatile but Florentin is unperturbed.
“Fans are the heart of any club and it is our aim to move forward with them. I have always loved playing in a stadium filled with fans and it is a good feeling knowing that I will get to cherish that feeling in this club as well. I am looking forward to the day I play in front of the passionate Green and Maroon fans.”
“The fans should know how proud I am to become a Mariner. I promise them that I will give my best to win a trophy and make our fans happy.”